Everyone needs a lighthouse in their life. It doesn’t have to be one of the tall, solitary beacons we celebrate on National Lighthouse Day. However, those beautiful structures certainly serve as inspiration.
We have been building them since antiquity and their form and function have not changed much since then. What started out as bonfires on coastal hilltops gave rise to today’s towers that help mariners safely navigate ports around the world.
Our country’s venerable Sandy Hook Lighthouse, built in 1764, still performs as advertised at the southern end of New York Harbor. Lake Michigan rivals both coasts with 115 lighthouses varying in size, age and lantern types.
Best estimates put our country’s lighthouse inventory at around 1000 beacons. Congress honored considerably fewer with the establishment of National Lighthouse Day on August 7, 1789. Still, they are just as revered today as they were by our forefathers.
Lighthouses stand tall casting illumination that reaches across miles of darkness. Our Statue of Liberty was the nation’s first lighthouse to throw the switch with electric lamps. The 1909 lighthouse on Alcatraz Island predates the Rock’s dark history and Cape Hatteras still holds bragging rights with the tallest at 200 feet.
Much like us, our lighthouses grace the nation with different sizes and colors. Much like us, they share an internal structure that does not change. They stand for hope when it is dark, and they inspire when skies are bright.
We all need a lighthouse in our lives. It can be faith in ourselves or a higher power. It can be a best friend or a lifetime partner. America’s lighthouses keep the flame alive inside all of us. That makes National Lighthouse Day very special.